Baghdad: A suicide bomber killed a top leader of the Iraqi government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group and four others, a police source said Wednesday.
Among those killed in the attack in Iraq`s western province of Anbar were three security officers and one bodyguard. Seven security personnel were also injured, the provincial police source said Wednesday.
The attack occurred late Tuesday night when the suicide bomber hugged Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha and blew up his explosive vest amid a crowd of Sahwa leaders and senior security officers who were on tour at a residential area in the western part of the provincial capital Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua.
In addition, the huge blast killed Hussein Abu Umsha, who is responsible for a local Sahwa group, the source said, adding that seven of Abu Risha`s bodyguards and policemen were also wounded.
The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, consists of some Sunni armed groups, who previously were part of powerful anti-US Sunni insurgent groups after the US-led invasion to Iraq in 2003.
Most of these groups had turned their guns against the Al Qaeda network and cooperated with the US troops after the Al Qaeda indiscriminately killed people of both Shia and Sunni Muslim communities.
The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shia-led government of marginalising them and its Shia- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons. But tensions ran high and fierce clashes flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi last December.
Abu Risha and some other tribal leaders split from the Sunni tribal fighters and lined up with the Shia-led government in fighting against anti-government Sunni tribes apparently after they realised that the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an Al Qaeda breakaway militant group in Iraq, has infiltrated into the major Sunni strongholds of Ramadi and Fallujah.